Mary – Chapter 2 – New Years Day Brunch – Part One

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

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Normally, a dating post like this one would appear on a Monday. But since I’m publishing three days a week now, to preserve continuity with the events of New Years weekend, this is technically the third installment of the events that occurred over my New Years weekend. Clarice, Carly, and Mary is a trilogy that should be together.

Since our first date Mary and I have met for lunch at Capital Grille and also at Square 1682 again for drinks. We went to Capital Grille because she said she’s known the bartender for fifteen years. She says she gets the hook up. I dig the hook up when I get it so I was down. The lunch was delicious and the company was good. Poor Mary, was having some oral pain for some dental work she needed done, so instead of steak she went with the salmon. But at nearly sixty-nine years of age, she’s hanging tough and looking good doing it. I did the burger to keep the cost down, but in the end we didn’t get any hook up. Good news is, Mary kicked in over forty dollars towards the bill, so Mary is clutch. The moral of this story is, if your name isn’t Phicklephilly or Church, you don’t really get the real hookup.

So this would technically be our fourth date. Mary’s cataract surgery was complete and the vision in her right eye is now clear again. After my date New Years Eve brunch with Clarice, (See: Clarice – 2016 to Present – The CEO – New Years Eve Brunch) and the wedding set up with Carly, (See: Carly – 2014 to Present – New Years Eve) I was ready to spend New Years Day with Mary.

These have been my kind of holidays and I think I finally got it right. In December I saw my family in the middle of the month at our annual holiday party.

Fantastic.

Like I’ve said before I’ve never been a fan of New Years because it’s drunken amateur night. Just can’t do it. So this year, I’ve managed to build these little meetings around the holiday, without actually having to participate in said holiday.

I decided to take Mary to brunch at the City Diner at Broad and South. It was formerly Juniper Commons. A Kevin Spraga restaurant. It was an abject failure. They had eighty different gins. You could pick your club soda from a load of different flavors. It had a diner decor and played 80’s music throughout. I had brunch there when it first opened. I had this magnificent pancake concoction. Best ever. The two times I went back my buddy Church said the burgers were sub par, and another time I had brunch with Trish there, the food outright sucked. Who wants gin, let alone eighty different kinds?

The place went under in less than six months. Bitch, please.

A Greek family came in and turned the place into a twenty-four hour diner. Crushing it. perfect spot and perfect idea. Like my partner Achilles over at the salon, the Greeks just know how to get it done. Wait until some big shot goes in and does the whole build out on the restaurant and wait for it to fail. Then go in and open your restaurant and all of the stuff is already there to make it work.

Genius.

I meet her there and we’re all set. I called a few days before and made a reservation for a window booth on the Broad street side. The mummers parade goes right down Broad street all day on New years. Perfect vantage point to dine while watching the parade go by. Mary is impressed. It’s what I’m good at. Being at the parade can sometimes be a shitshow, but being behind glass and away from the crowd and noise, it’s a delight.

We have a really nice Irish girl who will be our server. It’s about 1:15pm at this point. I order a Yards Pale, and Mary goes with the prosecco. How about that? Two different dates in two days, and they order the same thing. Just goes to show, ladies dig bubbly when it comes to day drinking. Place is swinging. Very busy. Juniper Commons was never like this.

Mary and I are chatting and catching up on what’s been happening in our lives over the holidays. The server comes by and we’re not ready. That always happens. I get chatting with someone and forget to look at the menu. She returns in a bit and we’re ready. Mary goes with the Eggs Benedict with Canadian bacon, and I have the french toast deluxe. Deluxe means they give me a sizable slice of ham, two pieces of bacon and a single sausage. Just a glorious brunch item. Order is in, and now it’s maybe 1:40pm.

We chat away, and order another round. The diner fills and several large parties come in. We’re laughing and talking as the parade rolls by. The people watching alone is almost better than the parade, and we’ve got a court side seat.

Time goes by.

More time goes by.

And even more time goes by.

We’re not starving but it’s been an hour and no food.

An hour!

At a fucking diner!

At Midtown diner they crack that food off to you so fast you barely tell them what you want and it’s in front of you. And Little Pete’s? Lightning. We can’t figure out what’s wrong. The server comes over and apologizes, several times. We’re not angry because we’re enjoying each others company the time sort of just rolls by. But we should be a little cross about this situation. The server tells us it’s the kitchen’s fault. They have had a few large tables come in and they are in the weeds. But that’s not our problem. I understand the challenges of the service industry and so does Mary…first hand.

Once it’s an hour and a half, and we’re about to order our third round, the server returns once again. She apologizes and is really sweet. We tell her it’s not her fault. I suggest that we pay for our drinks, and when our food eventually comes out after two hours, we eat it and tip her up to what the whole meal would cost, but the manager or owner comps our lunch. In theory this seems fair.

But the server tells us that they are Greek. (we know this) Any shortcoming that occur in the diner are the fault of the server. But we tell her she is completely innocent in all of this. She insists they will take it out of her pay and she’ll get in trouble.

Well that sucks. I can’t let that happen. We tell her we’re rescinding the offer and to forget we ever said anything. We express this with great earnest because she’s under enough stress, running around all day serving hungry cranky customers. I drop the idea.

Mary agrees. We’re cool. The server tells us just two more orders ahead of us and they’ll bring us our food. We’re both a little buzzed at this point and are still having a lovely time.

A few minutes later our orders from nearly two hours ago finally arrive. Fresh and hot just as if they were delivered minutes after we ordered. Presentation looks solid, and we’re both satisfied. We tear into our platters like hungry children. (#firstworldproblems) it’s all delish!

The server comes back and tells us if we want another round it’s on them. I think we’re square. It really wasn’t bad sitting there with Mary chatting away on a beautiful day. We’re finishing up and she gets a glass of wine and I go with a cocktail. The Scofflaw. It contains Crown Royal, dry vermouth, grenadine, orange bitters, and an Amarena cherry. Not a bad, spirit forward drink for a diner at 4:30 in the afternoon.

We’ve been here all afternoon!

We enjoy our free drinks and I pay the bill, but I told Mary that since she’s had so many medical woes lately, I wanted to do something for her. She’s been paying dutch normally when we go out, and I appreciate that. It’s New Years day of 2017, and I enjoy her company. I want to do something for her.

Tune in tomorrow to find out where these crazy kids end up next!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Annabelle – Chapter 3 -First Date

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

It was a hot day in July of 2013. I remember that summer being especially humid. I didn’t want to get all sweaty before my date with Annabelle. So I took a taxi up to the Barnes Museum. But sadly, many of those cabs are still hot as hell in the summertime. I went inside, told them I was on the guest list and that I was waiting for my plus one.  The girl at the counter tells me it’s cooler downstairs. I head down to cool off and dry out. I was heavier back then, (36 waist!) so maybe that’s why I was sweating more. I get some water and have a seat.

I get a text from Annabelle that she has arrived. I tell her to just let them know who she is and they’ll let her in. She comes downstairs to get me. She is wearing her hair up, and has a black top and matching black slacks that just cover her knees. Is that called Capri pants? She is also wearing heels so she towers over me. I don’t care. I’m Phicklephilly. I cast a great shadow across this city. She goes to use the restroom, and I chill out looking at little models of what the building looked like when they were designing it. The are all in different stages under glass.  I’m looking at one of the tiny models very closely when she returns. She comes up behind me and I just feel her presence. I turn around and she is over me looking at what I’m looking at. I tell her it felt like I was being stalked by a raptor from Jurassic Park. She laughs and does this little impression of a raptor. I find this funny and ask her if she liked the film  Jurassic Park. (One of my favorite movies)

“I love Jurassic Park.”

“Okay….okay” I reply.

We go upstairs and into the main ballroom. They are having a little first Friday celebration. A live band plays some sweet jazz. For whatever reason we’re both starving. I get us high top with a pair of chairs, and tell her I’ll go fetch us some snacks and wine.

I head over to the bar and all they have is overpriced everything and some cheese and chips. It’s the Barnes for God’s sake. Can’t they afford any decent chow for the guests? I gather up two bags of chips some cheese and a couple of glasses of wine. I’m not even gone for five minutes, and some old codger has already swooped in and started talking to my date. This guy is easily twenty years older than me. I approach, drop the food on the table and hand Annabelle her wine.

“Really dude? I was gone all of five minutes. Get your own girl.” I joke.

We chat with the old guy. He seems charming and harmless. After a bit, Annabelle and I go over to tour the collection. Apparently, that wasn’t part of the passes I was given. I simply drop a name and they let us in. I had never seen the collection before so it was a real treat for me to see what a billion dollar art collection looked like.

The collection includes 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, seven by Vincent van Gogh, and six by Georges Seurat. Other European and American masters in the collection include Giorgio de Chirico, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Jules Pascin and Maurice Prendergast. It also holds a variety of African artworks; ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; and American and European furniture, decorative arts and metalwork. The museum also holds several significant works by cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.

It was pretty amazing how one guy was able to collect this many fantastic, priceless pieces of art. We walk from room to room, looking at everything. At one point she says, “Out of everything in this room, which is your favorite?”  Then I would choose the one I liked the best. I would do the same to her. We did this enough times, until finally she asked me what was my favorite in the last room.

I simply pointed to her.

She smiled.

We then went downstairs to the rum tasting. We were all in a room and they gave us three different rums to try. The guy that was running the tasting really knew a lot about each rum and what made them different. But the weird part was, they were comparing the taste and look of the rum to different paintings in the collection. They had the images on a video screen on the wall. I’ve never seen this done, and I don’t even think it’s a real thing. But free rum is free rum. I remember the person talking about the mood of the paintings and the taste of the rum, and I was into it. there was a moment when my eyes drifted away from the host and onto Annabelle. I was looking at the painting and then my gaze passed over to Annabelle. I looked at her profile and neck. Was I falling for this girl? I took girls to events all of the time. What was it about this one? There’s nothing special about her really. It’s been two years since Michelle. I’m really taken with her. Has it just been too long since I’ve fallen in love that I just want that feeling again?

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

After the weird art/rum tasting we headed back upstairs. We probably shouldn’t have had all that wine and rum with so little food. I can handle it but it could be a bit painful for Annabelle tomorrow.

We leave the museum. It’s located in an area where it would be difficult to catch a taxi. I decide we should walk up to Spring Garden. We reach the corner and flag one down. We share the perfunctory hug. Dating’s funny. So much of it is tied to timing and ritual. I put her in the cab and ask her to text me that she has gotten home safely.

The cab rolls east into the night and as I walk back down into center city. As the city rises before me, I feel a little spring in my step.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Carly – New Years Eve 2016

“Awww… Sheila. Always a bridesmaid. Never a bride.” I thought to myself.

Carly asked me if I’d help her set up for New Years Eve at the restaurant where she works. I hate New Years, but I love her, so I agreed to help. She needed me there around 4:30 on Saturday so that worked.

I had just come from brunch with hot senior citizen, Clarice at Jones. (See: Clarice – 2016 to Present – The CEO – New Years Eve Brunch) I walked into the restaurant and took the elevator to the second floor. I told the bartenders that I was here to help Carly set up. They didn’t know if she was in the building or not. I texted her to let her know I was at the bar. Surprising, she got right back to me. “Stuck in traffic, should be there in twenty minutes.”

No skin off my nose. I had Cory make me a vodka martini straight up with a twist. What the hell, it was New Years Eve.

I had a great day, albeit expensive. I was still glowing a bit from my romantic time with Clarice. I took a photo of the cocktail in front of me and sent it to Carly just so she wouldn’t rush, and also know that I was in good hands. I ask Cory for a cocktail napkin, and wipe my mouth. I drop it onto the bar, as he hands me my drink.

Cory: “How’s bad is your life?”

Me: “What?”

Cory: (points to napkin marked with lipstick)

Me: “Ohhh…” I smile.

Cory: “Happy New Year.”

I was playing with my phone, and sipping my drink.  Just enjoying the sights and sounds of the restaurant, still decorated beautifully for the holidays. Some time passed, but I figured we had plenty of time. New Years probably wouldn’t get going until after 9pm. It was only around 5pm at this point. She said the whole job would only take a couple of hours.

Carly texted me again, saying she was looking for parking and that traffic was nuts in the city. It’s New Years Eve in Philly. Of course it’s going to be crazy. I ordered another martini.

I was chatting with the bartenders while they prepared for the impending onslaught of revelers. Twenty minutes later, I get another text. “Come up to the penthouse. We’re on the 14th floor.” I drain the last of my martini and ask for the check. Cory waves me off. “Your good.” I thank him, wish him a HNY and throw down a ten. I head to the elevators in the back by the Club Quarters. There is a mob of people there that look like they’re dressed up for a wedding.

The attendant has to insert a special key card to allow access to the penthouse. I’m sausaged into the elevator with a gaggle of  hot bridemaids. (I’ve been in worse situations)

We reach the penthouse and the place is a flurry of activity. “Who are all these people, and where is Carly?” One of the staff points to a door, leading upstairs. I head up and there is Carly and her husband.

“What are we doing and who are all of those people down there?”

Carly tosses me a 187 ml of champagne and says there’s been a change of plan. We’re now setting up for a New Years wedding and have two hours to do everything.

“They’re getting married here and the reception is here?”

“Yep.”

“Sounds good to me. Let’s do this.” I chug the tiny teaser and start grabbing boxes.

Downstairs we tell everybody that if they aren’t immediate family they have to leave until the wedding starts at 7pm. Holy shit! We have one hour! I’m arranging chairs in the main room. Then placing these tall glass vases next to some of the chairs.

I dump big pearls into the vase. Then I pour water in it. Then I place a tall, thick candle down in it. I then scatter white rose petals around the base. I replicate this nine more times.

Everybody is doing something. We have an efficient team of people who work at the restaurant and have to do this stuff on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis. Even a couple of the bridesmaids were jumping in to help. There was the fun ethnic one who was really into helping and working with us and the photographer. Then there was the skinny hot one who did very little but complained a lot.

“Awww… Sheila. Always a bridesmaid.  Never a bride.” I thought to myself.

We get everything set up, and then have to get out of there because they’re going to do the ceremony. Just think, it only takes twenty minutes to get legally bound to someone. If it doesn’t work out and you have kids you’re stuck for the next twenty years in an emotional and financial hell of your own doing. (meaning: If you’re the man)

At one point I was out on this deck that many people don’t know about near the roof. There’s a guy out there in a tux, probably well into his sixties. He’s heavyset, and coughing while he’s lighting a cigarette. Built to last.

I start chatting with him. He’s the father of the bride. Turns out he’s a lifelong cross-country truck driver that delivers for BJ’s Wholesale. We share a moment. I congratulate him on his daughter getting married. I even had a chance to speak with her later. She said she met her husband at a bar in Ocean City, MD called Secrets. Sounds like a good place to meet your soul mate.

So me, Carly, her husband, and a few other people go up to the roof with another 187 ml each to catch a smoke. The view is great. When would I ever get to see this view? I love new views of my city. I take a few pics for Instagram. Carly is passing around the Mary Jane vape pen (marijuana) and that just adds to the fun.

Later we head back down stairs to get ready to set up for the reception in an hour. There’s a bar set up in the back room. I see a box of soft pretzels somebody brought in. I grab one and stuff it in my mouth. (Or as I call it: Drinking armor) Carly hands me a box of stuff, and says, “Make this and then make me five more.”

“On it.” It’s a glass vase about fifteen inches tall. I have to place it on a round mirror. Then place two little candles around it near the base. Put a few strings of pearls hanging out of the vase. Stuff a sponge in the opening. Then stuff white and black feathers, some with gold trim into the sponge all around it. It’s actually a fun project. I then replicate it five more times.

I bring out a tray of cigars and cutters. They are in a small room off the balcony. This way people can go out there and smoke cigars. I thought that was a good idea. So these crazy kids get married, leave for an hour, then come back to rock out to their Great Gatsby themed reception until midnight when it turns into an epic New Years Eve Party. I think it’s pretty cool, but setting all of this stuff up and all of the money and work that goes into this massive party all seems like a waste to me, but what the hell, I’ve had my time. I’m rootin’ for these kids.

Carly lets us know it’s time to go. The bride is thanking us all profusely. I was happy to spend time with one of my favorite people and do something nice for someone’s special day. It was great. The bride tells us we can have whatever is left over upstairs, as she stuffs four cigars in my coat pocket. We go upstairs to get our stuff and I walk out with a half a dozen 187 ml bottles. I like that it has the name of the bride and groom on every bottle.

I say goodbye to Carly and her husband, and thank them for the fun evening. I’ll be home by 9pm and asleep by 11pm at the latest, before 2017 even happens. I haven’t missed a thing.

Update: Carly has left her job as Events Director at the restaurant where she works. She wants to focus on the legalization of marijuana in Philly. She lives in Manayunk which is only a 15 minute car ride from center city, but when you live in the bubble of Rittenhouse like I do, she may a well be on another planet.

I miss her terribly and our Monday night cocktails and conversations. I saw her recently, but it’s just not the same. Hopefully I can see one of my favorite people in the world again soon.

 

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Michelle – Chapter 16 – Epilogue – Part 1

“Every man dies. Not every man lives.” – HCW

Michelle and I have kept in touch since she moved to San Francisco to live with Dave. She found a good job and has even been promoted. She’s doing really well in her career. It seems pretty fast paced so she’s a busy lady. I met Michelle when she was 27. She is now 37 years old. We’ve known each other for over a decade now, but somehow it seems a lot longer. I suppose having a rich history together helps.

Michelle and Dave have lived out in San Fran for over three years now. They finally got married in 2016. He still works at the same job, and like I said she’s killing it in her job. We keep in touch through texting and sometimes use face time on our phones. Our friendship has transcended time and space.

They have no children yet, and I don’t know what their plan is in that department. We all know that the deal breaker between Michelle and I was that I didn’t want marriage and kids so she was out. I’m sure like every white couple in their thirties that have known each other for 20 years, they’re “trying.”

I never understand that about people. If you really want kids, throw the switch and make it happen. It’ll all work out. It’s easy. You can’t build a computer in an elevator but you can make a kid! Just get on with it! That’s what you wanted. The American Dream.

I did it and it worked out and I didn’t even want it. I love my Lorelei. She is a shaft of golden light through the darkness of my marriage and my life.

The housing market in San Francisco is some of the most expensive property in the country. Although Michelle and Dave are doing well, they are slowly being priced out of the market due to rising real estate prices and gentrification. So they may have to return to the east coast in the next year or so.

So there’s that little twist to the story. (Stop it. Not going to anything.)

Since she moved out West, Michelle has had to hide her friendship with me from Dave. He wouldn’t approve. I get it. Would I want my wife talking to her ex-boyfriend? Probably not. I’m pretty secure in myself though. It’s not like I’m talking to her to get her back. That’s simply not the case. Michelle and I have been friends longer than we were ever lovers. Our romantic relationship only lasted about two and a half years, but our friendship has lasted ten years! So in reality, she’s just keeping in touch with her friend back in Philly. She does that with all of her other friends back here so I’m just one of them. But I’m sure Dave wouldn’t see it like that, so she keeps me a secret. Dave thinks I’m ancient history for over five years now. (I still love that my pimp hand is strong nationwide. Kidding!)

Michelle lives a pretty clean and healthy life out there in the land of fruits and nuts. But whenever Dave has to go out-of-town she is usually drinking wine, smoking cigarettes and face timing with me. It’s like the kids in catholic school when I was growing up. They are held down so strictly, and when they’d got loose, they’d go crazy. Sometimes I think it’s that way for Michelle. But in the long run, living a healthier life will extend her life and she’ll feel better, and think more clearly. But not being able to be who you really are can create some long-term problems. But people are very adaptable. People evolve and change. A healthy clean life for Michelle may be her simply growing up.

I really believe that.

I’ve gotten the advice from some of my friends that what we’re doing is wrong. But based on what I know about those friends lives, I’d never listen to what they think I should do. They’ve made plenty of bad choices, and I’ll do what I want. It ends when Michelle says so, and not before. She’s the boss of that. No one knows what my life is, or was with Michelle and neither do you.

That belongs to us, and only us.

Michelle makes the final call on us and nobody else.

She’s been back to Philly a few times since she moved out west. Normally she swings by the city around the holidays. In 2014 she was around one evening. It was a lovely but bittersweet encounter. She was overcome with emotion. She had been spending the afternoon with several of her old friends, and I was the last stop. (Deal with it) We went to 1 Tippling Place for a drink before stopping at Crow and the Pitcher for another. She was supposed to go to her friend Gloria’s house and sleep over and then they were to have breakfast, but it didn’t quite play out that way.

She ended up sleeping on my sofa. Nothing happened, but she was pretty hung over the next morning. She got up and took an UBER down to Gloria’s the next morning for breakfast. Gloria was a little miffed, but Michelle’s time was limited. I later met up with her at 30th Street Station. She was going to take the train down to Delaware to see what I’m assuming was her family. She was a nervous wreck. So we sat at the Bridgewater Cafe and threw back a few chardonnays to take the edge off.

I put her on the train and off she went.

In 2015 she visited again around the holidays. She was unsure what time she’d be in the city. I was at McGlinchey’s drinking with Johnny R. She rolled in at one point and we all sat at a table by the door. It was nice. Johnny and I took turns playing songs on the jukebox, and we were all drinking and smoking cigarettes. It was just like old times. I played “Fly Me To The Moon,” and Michelle and I got up and danced in the aisle next to the bar. (Which was a sweet moment I get to wrap myself up in like a warm blanket.) Here we are in the shittiest bar in Philly and we bring the elegance and power just like always.

That was a glorious moment with my love.

Later, Johnny left and I walked down Chestnut Street towards 17th with Michelle. I think she told her people she was staying at her friend Susan’s house. But in reality she had booked a room at the Club Quarters. We took her bags up to the room. She was supposed to meet Susan for dinner, and said if I was around later we could meet up for a drink.

I went to Wawa and got a sandwich. I was starving, because eating anything from McGlinchey’s is always a health risk. I went back to my office at One Penn Center on JFK Boulevard and ate my sandwich and drank some box wine I kept there. (Cheap ass, but Mad Men style!)

She texted me about and hour and a half later. I met her at Club Quarters. She wanted to get a cocktail somewhere. We stopped in AKitchen on 18th Street. We chatted and enjoyed our drinks, just like we always did. Stories were told, memories refreshed, and cigarettes smoked. She said she should probably go back to her room. I walked her to the entrance of the hotel.

“Wanna come up?”

God Damn it.

So I ended up sleeping over that night. There was some playful moments, but I don’t think Michelle knew what she wanted that night. I probably should have gone home. We had planned on meeting for breakfast the next morning. But when the new day dawned she just wanted to go back to her family. She was feeling guilty about spending too much time with me again. So I guess I was dining alone that day.

I walked her to the parking garage and we went to her car. She pulled out of the lot and I got out. We said our goodbyes and I told her not to worry, and that nothing had happened. Just like I always do.

But nothing really happened.

Once again, my former queen disappeared into the morning light.

I ended up dining alone at Rachael’s alone. (Breakfast is always cheap and glorious despite your circumstances)

 

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Clarice – Chapter 2 – New Years Eve Brunch

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

On our first date, Clarice had said she wanted to go to see Rogue One with me. I agreed. We were to meet that Saturday and check it out.

I was on my way to somewhere, and I stopped at the salon. I was chatting with Trish. People were asking about the holiday hours that were posted at the counter. “You’re covering my shift this Saturday, right?”  She said.

I was caught completely off guard.

“Yea, remember you said you’d work for me this saturday, because I’m going home Friday to see my aunt and uncle and my parents for the holiday.”

I’m looking at my phone in my calendar. I don’t see it. I put everything in my calendar for just this reason.

“I’m supposed to see Rogue One…” Obviously not the answer Trish was looking for.

“I don’t see it in my calendar. Was I drunk when we made this plan?”

“I don’t know when you’re drunk!”

“Are you saying I’m drunk all the time?”

“No!” Trish looks like she’s about to cry. “I guess I can see my aunt and uncle next year…”

“Settle down. hang on. I’m going to make a phone call.”

I step out of the salon and go into the empty space next door. (It hasn’t been rented for three years) I call Clarice. Great thing is, being an older person she actually answers her phone. I explain my dilemma, and how I’ve got a friend and co-worker ready to squirt some tears in the salon. Clarice is completely understanding. I actually was happy to pick up the hours. I can go see Rogue One anytime. It would probably have been packed anyway.

I want to see her again, so I reach out to her a week later. I lock her down for brunch on New Years Eve. I’ve never been a fan of New Years anything, so it’s nice if I can do something during the day and then go home by nightfall. That’s when all of the amateur animals come out.

Saturday rolls around and I head to Jones. It’s a Stephen Starr restaurant at 8th and Chestnut. I forgot how noisy of a place it was. Hard surfaces and a high ceiling. They serve a lot of comfort food, and the place is decked out in 1970’s decor. It’s one in the afternoon and the place is swinging. I check my coat and wait for her. She appears on time. You know I like that.

She looks really good. Hair looks amazing. Those flowing raven tresses. Leather jacket, jeans and boots. Hot.

“Wow this place is busy. Are we even going to be able to get a table?” she says.

“We do when I have a reservation.”

The hostess takes us to our table. I’m happy to be here. I haven’t set foot in this place in over three years. We’re chatting and looking at the menus. I really dig their mac and cheese. So I suggest we share a bowl of that with a side of siracha. She agrees.

The server comes back. Clarice goes with a glass of prosecco, and I do a Yards Pale Ale. I put in for the mac n’ cheese, and let her order first. She’s not ready, but asks me to go first. I tell her I’ll speak slowly to give her more time. I go with the puffy french toast.

“That’s what I was going to order! I’ll have that too.” she says

“Should I order something else?”

“You should, so we can share.” Her again with the controlling. (This is eventually probably going to be a problem)

Am I imagining this? Am I being over sensitive? I’ll allow it. I decide to go with the Quiche. Because  I love quiche and I’m a real man. I looked at it before and it was my second choice after the french toast. At least it’ll be healthier.

“That was my second choice!” she quips. (Hmm…)

It’s noisy but I’m happy to see her and I’m having a lovely day. The weather is great and we’re right on the edge a new year. The mac n’ cheese arrives. It’s bubbling fresh in the bowl. Looks delish!

We rip into that, and it’s just as good as I remember. Brunch arrives a little premature, but it’s 1:30 and I haven’t eaten yet today so I’m in the mood for food. Everything looks and tastes great and we’re sharing.

After a while the place empties out somewhat and it’s a bit more quiet. we’re discussing the holidays and family, etc. For some reason I can really tickle this lady. I just start talking about stuff and she laughs her head off.

I ask her how her other dates went. She said she checked in with the Delaware guy on Wednesday about that evening, and he said he was boarding a plane. He didn’t reach out to cancel. He was just going to bail. She obviously took offense and didn’t respond. He texted her again on Saturday and she just ignored it. The friday guy she cancelled. It was supposed to be his third date with her, but when he was saying things like he wanted to come to her house and cuddle she was put off. Maybe the fool thought the third date rule somehow applied to this thoroughbred.

I kind of like that after she went out with me, everybody else either screwed up or dropped off. My Led Zeppelin prophecy came true!

I should probably get to the 300 pound gorilla in the room. The bill comes. Granted, she had two proseccos and I had three beers. The drinks are what kill you. The bill was like seventy-three dollars. My eyes are watering. I look at it and I’m like, wow. Oh well, its New Years. I don’t make a big fuss over it publicly because that makes me look like a cheap skate and we all know that I am more than generous. I let the moment steam a bit, just in case there is help on the way…

Come on… just reach into your bag and offer the tip. Just the tip, baby…. You can do it. It’s going to be 2017. Equal rights for women. Please…….?

Nope. Not a fucking dime from the CEO boss lady.

Killing me.

We leave and enjoy a leisurely stroll down Chestnut Street. We’re headed west back towards center city. I have to go meet my friend Carly around 4:30, to help her set up for New Years Eve at the restaurant where she works. Clarice says she can hop on the next train back to Upper Darby anytime.

We reach Broad Street. I mention to her that they’ve remodeled the whole “rotunda” (bar area) of the Ritz Carlton across the street. “Wanna pop in and check it out?” Clarice is down for that. Maybe they’re handing out free drinks. I know she’d like that!

We head inside and the place looks gorgeous. It’s all decorated for the holidays and they have reconfigured the space. All of the furniture is new, and there is more private spaces around the room. The bar has been completely redone. they moved it outward from the wall and now you can sit all the way around it. Plus there are little booth seats against the back wall now. I need to come back here for happy hour again soon. Maybe with someone else though.

Just sayin’.

As we enter the main room there is a pretty black girl holding a tray of champagne. I can’t believe it. Free drinks. “Happy New Year.” She smiles. Clarice and I each grab a glass and look for a seat. We see several areas that have “Reserved” signs on them. We walk by several empty areas that are like that. “Oh that one is reserved too.” I say. as we’re walking by a seated couple. “They’re all reserved, she says with obvious disappointment in her voice. Clarice speaks: “Fuck this. Let’s goes sit over there.”

“We can’t. This is the Ritz Carlton, we can’t just do that.” I reply.

Wow. What a change in attitude since my days with Michelle. We take off our coats and get comfortable on the pillow covered sofas in our little enclosure.

“Fuck it. I’m doing it. If whoever this is reserved for shows up, we’ll apologize for not seeing the sign and leave.”

“But I can clearly see the sign right there on the table, Clarice.”

With a backward swipe of her hand she knocks the sign off the table. “C’mere.” She says as she grabs me and kisses me passionately. Now we got a show. She’s taking the sting right of that bill from Jones.

“I thought you said no PDA?”

“This is private enough.” She pulls me in for more kisses. She’s a hot lady. Maybe this is what Valerie and June were missing. That youthful fire that this sixty-one year old still possesses. She was in show biz for years so I know how these carny folk are all horny, but it’s a good thing.

“You know what I’d like to do that I’ve never done?” She purrs.

“What?”

“I wanna go to a strip club.”

“Noted. I’ll take you to Delilah’s one day.”

I need to write that down in the notepad of my phone as ‘Things to do with Clarice’. We’re just hanging on the sofa and nobody is saying anything. I’ve really got her laughing. We’re having a good time sipping our free champagne. I do realize that I have to go meet with Carly, so we finish our bubbly and head out. Of course I help her with her coat.

We walk a few blocks and I’ve got to keep heading west, and she’s got to go north to jump on the subway. I thank her for the day and she smooches me again. I do like Clarice. I’m attracted to her, and want to see her again.

Maybe one day when we’re someday watching Season Two of Phicklephilly on Netflix, I’ll look back on these moments and laugh. But right now this research is costing me a small fortune. I think I’ll find true love when I meet a woman that doesn’t want anything from me.

Maybe she’ll  just want me for me.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 8am EST.

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Eliana – Part 2 -The Art of Philly Cheesesteaks

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

Eliana and I decided to meet again. She said she wanted to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love the PMA, so I was down for that. Back then I was off on Mondays, so she said she’d come down again.

She drove down into center city, and because she don’t know the city, and is not the best parallel parker, she picked me up. I was at Rachael’s stuffing a bagel down my throat. I don’t think she’d get down here as fast as she did.

I hop in her Chevy Volt and off we go. I direct her out to the PMA, because she’s clueless. We pull into the underground parking garage and lock the car. We take the elevator to the surface, and head towards the back entrance of the museum. The back of the building is not nearly as exciting as the front, with the Rocky steps and all.

We get to the door, and the nice man guarding the door says the museum is closed. What a disappointment. I was really looking forward to walking the halls of my favorite museum with this lady. But I’ve got an idea. I work my charm on the guard and he provides us with a coupon for cheap parking.

Eliana, is giving me some ribbing about bringing her down here on a monday, and the museum being closed. I get it and I’ll fix this. It was a little annoying though.

It’s a beautiful warm day, and I tell her leave the car there in the lot. We get our coats out of the vehicle and walk down Ben Franklin Parkway. I take her to the Rodin Museum. I love Rodin. It’s a small museum, but his sculptures rock. (get it?)

We tour the museum for a bit, and then take a seat in one of the rooms to chill. I steal a kiss or two from her. I think she knows by now I like her. I’m not blown away by this girl, but she’s nice and I’m feeling decent energy. I’m not that attracted to her. She’s got a sexy body, but there’s something missing. Maybe it’s a cultural gap. Did you ever notice how sometimes people from other countries just aren’t as hip as Americans? I mean no offense by this statement. But we have so many diverse culture references, that, and our fast way of life, it just makes us different.

The sun is shining and it’s an amazingly warm beautiful day. We stroll the parkway, and I have us walk south around 20th street. That’s a great area out there. The Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences. I could have taken her to the Barnes Museum instead of the Rodin, but there’s a difference. The Rodin Museum was free. I made a small donation. The Barnes if $25 per person. I’m not dropping $50 on a second date. I don’t care if it’s a billion dollar art collection or not.

I’ve done the Barnes as a first date, but I got in for FREE. Totally different situation. I don’t know if this chick is going to make it.

We walk all the way back down to Rittenhouse. It was a hike, but a lovely stroll. I take her to a good spot I know for Monday lunch. We go in and get a table in the back. My favorite Monday bartender is on duty. Anna Marie is a love. She’s a beautiful Vietnamese girl. Petite and fit. I do the necessary pleasantries. Eliana had told me she had never had a Philly cheesesteak.

Today is the day, because they are half price on Mondays at this place. If I’m going to date all of these women, I have to be creative as well as thrifty. She’s pleased with the outcome, and happy that I remembered.

We get our food and chat. Our day is going well. She likes her cheesesteak well enough. I of course pay the bill. But so far this has been a pretty light date financially.

We walk west on Walnut street. We had some leftover food and I am carrying it so that I can give it to the next homeless person I see. It’s a real problem in Philly. But it seems like every time I have food, I never see any of them. This has happened on several occasions. But I do finally run into a guy and give him the food.

We walk all the way out to the Schuylkill River. There is a long walking and riding path there. It’s a lovely scenic area. You just have to watch out for the cyclists speeding by.

Check it out here: https://schuylkillrivertrail.com/

It goes on for miles and miles. They’ve really done a great job developing and maintaining it. We walk along the manicured trail. The view of the river is great. You can see Thirtieth Street Station, and the Cira Centre, which is my favorite building in the city. Because it looks like a big shard of glass jammed into the ground.

More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cira_Centre

There was some kisses as we strolled along the path. It was a long day, and we basically spent almost six hours together. The beauty of this little journey, is that the path leads right back to the Art Museum. It really has been a lovely day. But when you spend a great deal of time with someone, you get to know them pretty fast.

We get to the parking garage and hop in her car. It’s been an amazing day weather wise. I like Eliana. She asks me if I want to drive her car, and I leap at the chance. Just so much technology in these modern machines. I’m going to drive this car right down to Square 1682 at 17th and Sansom. I’ll be sipping a drink with Carly and Church in twenty minutes.

I just don’t know how thrilled I am with Eliana. I think she’s nice and I like her, but somehow, something’s missing. I’m just not feeling the energy. I don’t need to feel the euphoric power I have felt in the past about anyone. I hope that aspect of my love life never happens again.

I need to think about this. I’ll know what I’m going to do by the next date.

Probably before that.

She does have a slammin’ little body on her…

I promise to let you know.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday at 9am EST.

 

Clarice – Chapter 1 -The CEO

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

I met Clarice on Tinder. She is an attractive sixty-one year old black woman. You read that correctly. Clarice is the CEO and Chief Strategist of her own consulting firm. They develop effective marketing campaigns for non profits. she attended the Academy of Vocal Arts at Indiana University. her profile says she is curious, creative, impatient, inspired and passionate. She states that “Life is too short to be colorless, wishy-washy or indecisive.” She goes on to say, “If that’s your definition of feminine, then I’m just not that girl.” She’s not interested in hook ups, she’s looking for a meaningful relationship. “I know what I like, I know who I am, and what I can and cannot do.”

Well, let’s find out about all of that.

I asked her what I ask all of my matches on Tinder. “What prompted you to swipe right on my profile?”

“You have a friendly face! Sometimes it’s that simple.”

“Thank you for that Clarice, I like yours too!”

“Then perhaps we should meet face-to-face so that we can share our mutual admiration over a glass of wine…?

She gets right to the point. I like that.

We texted on tinder for a short time and I relinquished my number. She did the same, and we kept the conversation going that way. But it didn’t last long. I locked down a date and it was on.

We decided to meet at the Italian restaurant, Panorama. Clarice actually chose the place. The wine bar at Panorama is one of the premier Philadelphia wine bars, located in the heart of Old City at Penn’s View Hotel. Panorama is home to the largest wine preservation and dispensing system in the world as declared by The Guinness Book of World Records, no other Philadelphia hotel or restaurant offers such a selection. They have one hundred and twenty wine taps!

I hopped on the bus at 16th and Market street and rode it all the way to Front Street in Old City. Penn’s View Hotel is practically right there. I walk in and scan the room. The place looks like they remodeled it a bit. I look down the bar and there is the only black woman in the restaurant, so I head over. Clarice only had one photo on her profile, and she sort of looked stern in it. But I’m pretty sure it’s her. I greet her and get out of my coat and scarf.

I sit and we decide on what we’re going to drink. She says we should try one of their signature Panoramic Flights — a personal wine tasting offering a sampling of five different wines within a select group – from a selection of over 2 dozen fun and provocative themes. I’m okay with that. There are five in a flight. I’ll be interested to see who gets the odd glass. She wants food too. She says if she gets the mushrooms would I eat any of them and I tell her I won’t. But I tell her I’ll try them. I’m just not a fan of mushrooms.

We’re sharing the wine flight…sort of. She chooses one, and then I choose one. I taste hers, she tastes mine, and that’s it. The mushrooms come and whatever they did to prepare them, they did well. The shrooms taste pretty good. Then she gets bread. For a skinny chick she sure likes to eat.

She really is a lovely woman. Slender, delicate features. High cheekbones. wears her make up well. She’s glamorous and fashionable. Looks like money. I love her wrists and fingers. delicate and dainty. I would like to see what those legs look like, but this is our first date.

I run the program and she’s laughing and giggling like a schoolgirl. I can tell she’s bored with these other losers. Phicklephilly is the man for the job. She tells me she was with a man for ten years. married to him for five of them. She’s been divorced for thirty years! So she has basically been single all through her thirties, forties, and fifties! But she does say she was engaged to a Jewish guy for a while but that didn’t work out. She formerly was an opera singer. (I thought I saw a little diva in there) She has no children (Double bonus: No kids and too old to have any!) Like me, both parents are dead. She has one brother, whom she says has a shitty wife. There is no other family.

We sip our way through the next two glasses on our wine flight. Only one glass left after this round!

I can tell the date is going well and she is laughing and feeling refreshed to be around a man such as myself. She says she finds so many men boring. This was a Monday night. She says she has another date Wednesday, and one on Friday. I appreciate her honesty, but could care less who else she goes out with. Because when Led Zeppelin goes on first, those other bands should just cancel their tour and go back to their garage. I can tell she really likes me. One third through the date, she asks if I want to go see Rogue One with her on saturday. I tell her yes! Why not, she’s Pam Grier hot. Looks like she’s in her forties. Then she tells me she likes country music and I tell her that maybe we should start seeing other people. (Because I don’t like country music) she laughs, and thinks I’m a riot.

Final glass of wine, and guess who snags it. Yep. Clarice!

She picked the place, the wine, the food, set up the next date, and now the final glass of wine is hers. No wonder this lady is alone. Most men can’t handle a woman this aggressive, confident, and controlling. But I’m not other men. I’ll let this fish take the line out a bit and tire herself out. Then I’ll slowly and methodically reel her in, gaff her, and bring her aboard.

The bill comes and lo and behold,  I can’t tell you what Clarice’s wallet looks like, because it never came out. I help her on with her coat and we’re off. She’s taking the Market street subway line back out to Upper Darby. I can ride with her to 13th street because I’m going to Time (whiskey and jazz bar) on Sansom of our annual toy drive for the kids in the hospital at Children’s Hospital. I’m sitting next to her on the train, and I say to her, “I probably should have kissed you when I had the chance.”

“We are not doing any PDA (public displays of affection) on this train.” she quips.

I laugh and get it. There is a black girl across from me looking me right in the eye. I can’t have everybody giving her the gas face when I get off the train. I hop off at 13th and tell her I’ll see her Saturday for the new Star Wars movie!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 9am EST.